Finland

We left Stockholm and boarded a 45 flight to Helsinki on a turboprop plane. We took a taxi to Helsinki Central after our booked ride failed to turn up. It was Mid-Summer day and there was little traffic along the road into town.

We passed residential apartment blocks that looked straight out of the Soviet Union design book, rather dull and needing a good facelift. Our hotel was built late 19th century and has been redeveloped several times. We found it to be comfortable but in need of some attention to curtains and carpets.

Central Helsinki is very modern by any standard with lots of shopping centres, hotels and eating places.

Finland has a population of about 6 million, Helsinki about 1.4 million. Finland has about 188,000 lakes larger than 500 sq. metres and about 179,000 islands. 10% of Finland is covered by lakes, rivers etc. and 78% covered by forests.

Helsinki-comming-it-to-land

Approaching Helsinki.

Our-Hotel-in-Helsinki

This is our hotel, the Seuvahuone, which is situated opposite the central railway station. It was originally built in the 1820’s and has undergone several facelifts. The rooms were comfortable and clean with all modern facilities, but curtains and carpets could be updated.

Breakfast-room-in-the-Seuvahuone-Hotel-in-Helsinki

This is the breakfast room in the hotel, which was once a ballroom with boxes for the guests. It was very grand and an excellent place to have breakfast.

Part-of-main-street-in-Helsinki

This was a street scene hear our hotel, lovely wide streets with wide footpaths and bicycle lanes provided for the many cyclists.

Street-Scene-in-Helsinki

This was a typical street in Helsinki. Note the cobble stones, the bike path alongside the road, the tram tracks and footpath, and the many trees.

A-popular-street-in-Helsinki

This was the main thoroughfare through central Helsinki, but on a Saturday when most of the city residents were away at their holiday cabins to celebrate mid-summer holidays.

An-island-we-passed-on-a-harbour-cruise

We went on a harbour cruise and passed many islands like the one above which prove to be very popular with the locals.

Don-at-Lenin's-Helsinki-flat

Don and I managed to find the flat where comrade Vladimir Lenin lived until April 1917, just after the Russian revolution, in which he was a major player until his death in Jan 1924.

Wally-at-Lenin's-Helsinki-flat

This is yours truly at the site of comrade Lenin’s flat.

Tram-on-Helsinki-streets

This is one of the many trams that service Helsinki, very comfortable and modern.

Wally-with-Helsinki-Busker

Finally I met this busker near the main city street. I didn’t get his name but dropped 5 Euros in his hat and took this wonderful photo. He sang with passion and sounded a bit like Tom Waits. I had the impression his songs were folk songs of either Finnish or Russian origin. I hope Pam has a recording of him singing and I will add it if possible.

Our Busker playing.

 

 

Next stop Warsaw.

 

 

 

 

Stockholm

We left expensive Copenhagen on the train at about 10.30 am headed for Stockholm. We sped along at about 200 km/hr in some places but made several stops. The travel time was about 5 hours, and the distance is approx. 525 km, which isn’t particularly fast.

Stockholm extends over 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Its population is about 2 million and has 70 museum.

In midsummer it has 21 hours of sunlight, in midwinter about 6 hours. Being the home of Ikea it has the worlds largest store covering about 5.6 hectares, and is the home of the Nobel prize. It is the home of the H&M stores, and invented Spotify.

The walking street, called Drottninggatan and runs for kms and extends over a bridge and into the old town. We found Stockholm to be very clean, friendly and a bit less expensive than Copenhagen. The Beer and the food was great and the weather was really tourist friendly with sunny days and tops in the 20’s.

On-the-train-to-Stockholm

On the train on our way to Copenhagen First class.

The-hotel-in-Stockholm-we-stayed-at

This was our hotel. The rooms were, I though somewhat small, but ok.

Part-of-the-main-waterfront

One of the many waterfront views around Stockholm.

The-walking-street-in-Stockholm

This part of Drottninggatan, its longest and best known pedestrian street.

Part-of-the-tourist-trail-in-the-old-town

Drottninggatan extended into the old town which was full of eating places and the usual tourist shops selling expensive items.

Young-Asian-lass-keeping-abreast-of-the-latest-fashion-trends

Saw this young Asian lass who was obviously up to date with the fashion trends of the day.

Vasa-Sweden-warship-sunk-after-20-minutes-at-sea

This is the 17th century warship the Vasa, was under sail for about 20 minutes before it capsized and sank in the harbour. Now I’m not a nautical engineer but even I could see that it was very top heavy, especially when the King ordered a second row of Canons to be included. Its in amazing condition for being submerged in the Baltic sea for 300 years.

Kay-in-the-1-metre-wide-street-in-the-old-town

This is Kay in the narrowest street in the old town which at its narrowest  point is about 900 mm wide.

 

Yours-truely-on-the-way-up-to-the-80-metree-free-fall

This is yours truly going up in the 4 man capsule to a height of 80 metres, where it was then tilted forward about 30 degrees before being released. The trip down took a natter of seconds to fall 70 metres before being stopped in the last 10 metres with a g force of about 3g, which was quite a stop. It cost 75 Swedish crowns, about 10 bucks, but well worth it, quite a ride. I have tried to include a video but haven’t had much luck, but will keep trying.

Now onto Finland and its capital Helsinki.

 

Hopefully this is the video of the free fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flam & Voss.

The Flåm Line is a 20.2-kilometer (12.6 mi) long railway line between Myrdal and Flåm. The line’s elevation difference is 863 meters (2,831 ft); it has ten stations, twenty tunnels and one bridge. The maximum gradient is 5.5 precent (1:18). Because of its steep gradient and picturesque nature, the Flåm Line is now almost exclusively a tourist service and has become the third-most visited tourist attraction in Norway.

At Myrdal we caught a train to Voss and if we wanted to, further onto Bergen.

The-Village-of-Flaam

View of Flam from our cabin on the Magnifica. A small town of about 350 residents.

Inside-a-Flaam-carriage

This is the view inside a carriage on the Flam Railway.

A-couple-of-passengers

A couple of the passengers on the trip.

one-of-the-valleys-passed-on-the-journey

One of the magnificent views on the way up.

Another-waterfall-and-small-homestead-in-thye-Flaam-valley

Another view but we often wondered how the houses were built and how the residents gain access where no visible means are obvious.

Amazing-waterfall-along-the-track

Huge waterfall along the way to the top of the railway line.

Kay-at-Maylla-the-top-of-thye-Flaam-railway

Kay finally made it to Myrdal some 800+ metres above Flam.

At-Maylla-about-to-catch-the-downhill-train-nto-Voss

We then transferred to the train bound for Voss. Downhill all the way through some magnificent scenery and many snow resorts.

Fleischers-Hotel-in-Voss

This is the Fleischer’s Hotel in Voss where we and about a thousand tourists had lunch. Voss has a population of about 15,000.

Part-of-the-main-street-of-Voss

Part of the main street in Voss.

Waterfall-on-road-back-to-Flaam-village-by-bus

Huge waterfall just out of Voss on the bus trip back to Flam.

Magnificent-Valley-of-road-trip-back-to-Flaam

Amazing view of a valley on the return trip to Flam, which included a 12 and 5 km tunnel through solid granite.

Finally-at-the-bottom-of-thyat-magnificent-Valley

Finally at the bottom of the valley in the above image, and almost back to Flam.

 

PS Is there anyone out there who actually gives a toss about Beyoncé’s twins????

Bergen and Geiranger.

We left the German port of Warnemunde on Sunday and travelled the 616 Nautical miles ( 1140 km) to Norway’s 2nd city Bergen approx. pop 280,000. At Bergen after berthing we were taken by bus for a short tour of the town before heading for the funicular railway. When we arrived every other tourist in Bergen was there. It took the best part of an hour to get on board for the 4 minute trip, and a half hour wait to get back down again, but what a view !!!!.  Mount Fløyen, is approx. 320 metres above sea level and these photos do not do the view justice.

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Harbour view of some of Bergen.

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Kay at the top of Mount Fløyen with some of Bergan and our ship MSC Magnifica visible tied up.

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View of Central Bergen.

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Going down in the funicular Railway, a very steep descent.

We left Bergen and sailed the 260 km to the Geiranger Fjord. . This reputedly Norway’s finest one and the following photos do not do it justice, the fjord is Magnificent and a wonder to behold. And Slartibartfast is to be congratulated for his efforts in designing these amazing fjords.

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This is part of the 11 hairpin bends above Geiranger which takes us to the  viewing platform 860m above the Fjord.

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We often wondered how do people actually build and live in the numerous houses along the Fjord.

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This is the view from the viewing point 860 m above the fjord of the ship anchored at the head of the Geiranger fjord.

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Kay and Pam taking a shower at the viewing station mentioned above.

 

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Don and Pam at viewing platform 860 above the fjord which is 280 metres deep.

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Kay at the other end of the Geiranger fjord with our ship anchored. The Geiranger Fjord is  a 15-kilometre -long branch off the Sunnylvsfjorden, which is a branch off the Storfjorden fjord. There seems to be a never ending succession of fjords.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On board the MSC Magnifica

Finally my first post from the cruise ship Magnifica. Hope you make a few comments as the next one will be from Copenhagen and concerning the cruise and excursions.

Cabin-12066-looking-towards-our-balcony

Cabin 12066

This is a photo of our cabin on the MSC Magnifica looking from the corridor entrance towards the balcony on the 12th of 14 decks. Above us was the promenade deck and the swimming pools. Centrally heated/cooled, room service and very comfortable.

Departure-from-Copenhagen

Departure from Copenhagen

We departed around 6 pm on Saturday 10th and steamed across the Baltic Sea towards Warnemunde on the German Coast. We were then to take a bus trip to Berlin. The trip across was calm.

Hotel-Admiral

Hotel Admiral

After a gruelling 20 hour flight we arrived in Copenhagen at 6 am and eventually checked into the Admiral Hotel. This was once a warehouse on the waterfront, but the rooms were comfortable. Around 5.30 pm Don and Pam checked in.

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Lifeboat Drill

Just after the MSC Magnifica got under way we were instructed to attend a life boat drill. we were all assigned a section, which was imprinted on the life jacket. We unsaftened the jacket and placed it over our heads and experimented with the various gizmos, the FM radio on mine didn’t work. We then went to our allocated lifeboats, but didn’t go any further.

Wall-full-of-Refugee-Life-Jackets

This was a waterside warehouse in Copenhagen with the windows stuffed with life vests. I suspect it was a statement about the treatment about the refugees.

Kay-&-Wally-at-part-of-the-original-Berlin-Wall

Berlin Wall

Construction started in August 1961 and destruction completed in 1992. it was some 155 km in length and it is reckoned that in this period 5000 people attempted escape and about 200 died in the attempt. Only 3 sections are left standing, the longest is about 80 metres and is in the picture.

Beer-powered-BMW

Beer Powered BMW

Germany is a world leader in Alternative Energy, and one of its car manufacturers, BMW, has developed a novel approach to the problem of preventing pollution. The vehicle in the picture was developed over several years and is undergoing further testing. Don and I reckon that put on a stability control system and seatbelts and it would sell in Australia.

The specifications are quite remarkable:

1 driver and up to 12 passengers/power input operators

pollution 0 gm/km

economy 136 litres of beer/100km

Top speed 8 km/hr

 

Don-Pam-and-Kay-at-the-Brandenburg-Gate

Brandenburg Gate

A very popular tourist spot the Brandenburg Gate was built by Fredrick William II in 1788 in the Neoclassical style. I’m not sure its so popular, its just another monument built by some monarch at enormous expense, but I’m not sure as to why he built it, I guess because he could.

 

Stretched-Trabi-Limo

Trabant or Trabi.

Produced from 1957 to 1990. about 3.,7 million were produced in East Germany. It was slow, noisy, uncomfortable and dirty with its 500 cc two-stroke engine. A good now will cost you about 2000 English pounds, about $AU3500. Saw a couple in the streets and is becoming a collectors item- so get in quick.

 

Checkpoint-Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Located near what’s left of the Berlin Wall is the structure that was “Checkpoint Charlie”, between the Soviet and American Sectors. Its now a favourite tourist spot and for the sum of 3 euros you can have your photo taken with a couple of ex-USA serviceman.